MOGADISHU, July 7 (Xinhua) -- East African bloc on Sunday welcomed the launch of an exercise to integrate forces of moderate Islamic group Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) into Somali security forces.
Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), reaffirmed the bloc's support for the integration exercise and also the ongoing political dialogue and reconciliation in Galmudug State.
"The launch of the integration exercise marks an important milestone in the implementation of the Somalia security architecture and transition plan, which are essential to enabling Somalia to fully assume its security responsibilities," Maalim said in a statement.
Somali government launched the exercise to integrate ASWJ into Somali security forces in Dhusamareb, capital of Galmudug State on Thursday. The ASWJ militants, who are opposed to al-Shabab militant group but sympathetic to Somalis central government, will be integrated into the security agencies that include the army, police, intelligence service, and custodial corps.
Maalim commended Somali government leadership, Galmudug authorities, ASWJ and the people of Galmudug on the breakthrough and saluted their commitment to a united, stable and prosperous Galmudug.
The official encouraged all stakeholders to maintain the same spirit of dialogue, mutual responsibility and inclusivity in the interest of peace and reconciliation and for the benefit of Somalis.
Based in Dhusamareb, the ASWJ forces is responsible for kicking the al-Shabab extremist group from most parts of the region. In December 2017, ASWJ signed a power-sharing agreement with the state administration.